Massed Together in a Perfect Formation
In this edition, we shall introduce you to another phrase "ru huo ru tu". In this phrase, huo means fire and tu refers to white flowers in ancient China. So the literal meaning of the phrase is red as a raging fire and white as white flowers. But today it is often used to describe something that grows vigorously or an occasion when people or things are massed together in perfect formation. Here is the story behind the phrase.
The story dates back to days in late spring and autumn period more than two thousand years ago. At that time, China was divided into numerous small kingdom. The main character in our story is the King of the Wu Kingdom. At that time, Wu was mighty, and its King coveted the role of ruler of the central allied part of China. To realize his dream, he called the heads of other kingdoms to Wei to settle the issue of who should be leader of the alliance. To show the strength of his fief he took 30,000 soldiers with him. Soon after they arrived, he arranged his army into a three-square formation: left right and middle.
Each array consisted of a hundred lines, each containing a hundred soldiers. The soldiers in the middle array wore white battle gowns and armor with white flags held high. Looking from afar, the array seemed to be a plot of white flowers. The soldiers in the array on the left wore red gowns and armour and held red flags, giving the appearance of a raging fire. The soldiers on the right were clad all in black, looking like heavy thunderclouds.
The king of Wu commanded the army in person, leading them near to the place where the leaders gathered. To display the strength of the army, the king beat the drum himself, and 30 soldiers shouted in unison. Then sound like thunder and the leaders of other kingdoms were deeply moved and impressed. Seeing the Wu kingdom's disciplined and grandiose army, the leaders at the meeting dare not compete. They selected him as the head of the alliance.
From this display, the phrase “ru huo ru tu” was drawn. Now it is often used to describe things on a grand and spectacular scale, or so fierce that it is like a raging fire.